Parkland Costa Smeralda Discrimination

                  Letter to the Minister of Environment for Protection of Land and Sea

                                                                           Mr Corrado Clini

Dear Minister,

I am writing on behalf of our members, Costa Smeralda Property Owners and in agreement with the outgoing Mayor of the City of Arzachena, Professor Piero Filigheddu.

We are writing as users of the wonderful National parkland of the La Maddalena Archipellago, to report the recent measure by the Park authorities which amended the Rules of the Park unduly penalizing the residents of the neighboring towns of Arzachena and Olbia. They now impose a total prohibition of anchorage in “our” islands located off the Costa Smeralda coastline, which were already severely impacted by the original Park Regulations of the May 17 1996.

We firstly wish to explain that the islands of the Park of La Maddalena are divided into two distinct groups, as shown on the map supplied by the Park: those which gravitate around the city of La Maddalena, home to the park, and those furthest from the Park, adjacent to the coastline of the cities of Olbia-Arzachena.

Looking at the map of the Park, you will note that almost all the areas shaded in red lie off the Costa Smeralda, an obvious discrimination against the City of Arzachena and Olbia, affecting particularly the Costa Smeralda, with its tourism industry of national importance.


                                                   All the red zones of total prohibition are near Costa Smeralda

As I already reported to this Ministry in 2001 (see letter Appendix A), the original draft of the Park disproportionately harmed the islands in the City of Arzachena with 89% of total bans on the approach and anchorage at these islands.Now the park has recently decreed a total ban on all the islands that face the Costa Smeralda coastline in Arzachena, bringing the prohibition rate close to 100% of total bans relegated entirely to the waters of the Costa Smeralda.

The purpose of the managers of the park was most likely to require all vessels to visit only the islands close to La Maddalena, more for political reasons that for ecological ones, disregarding the principles for which Marine Parks are established. Given the particular value of the main islands dell’Archipellago, Budelli-Spargi-Santa Maria, it would have been more appropriate to impose many more restrictions in this area to be preserve, rather than crowding all the boats here.

It can reasonably be suspected that the policy behind this crowding of boats in the La Maddalena area, has been done to financially benefit only that City and its local companies for the bulk transport of passengers of day trippers to the islands. In addition to economic damage to the City of Arzachena, we report a severe environmental damage caused by this unreasonable and excessive regulation which obliges the hundreds if not thousands of boats in the marinas of the Costa Smeralda to travel every day all the way to the La Maddalena islands.

In fact, we see each morning in summer thousands of yachts, primarily large motor boats with enormous engines, coming out from the marinas of Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo and Portisco, of which a good part anchor at the few nearby beaches of the mainland already overcrowded by the public arriving by car, where they stop to swim in the sea, instead of spreading out amongst the nearby islands of Mortorio and Soffi. In fact because of the huge presence of the public on the beaches and of the many boats at anchor, the water along the shore is not as clear as it once was and as it should continue to be.

The other greater part of these Costa Smeralda yachts will roar off at full speed with their powerful engines towards the distant islands of Budelli-Spargi-Santa Maria at La Maddalena, where the anchoring is obviously permitted. This great consumption of fuel, with its pollution of the air and water and with much accustic pollution, all caused by total prohibition of approach and anchorage at the nearby Costa Smeralda islands of Arzachena and Olbia.

Let’s examine the distances involved:

Porto Cervo - Budelli                14 Miles

Porto Rotondo - Budelli             22 Miles

Porto Rotondo - Mortorio          3.5 Miles

Porto Cervo - Bisce                    1.8 Miles

Porto Cervo – Caprera                5 Miles

Now let’s see the consequences:

Considering the average motor yacht of 20 meters in length, which consumes about 400 liters of fuel per hour and takes an hour to get from Porto Rotondo to Budelli traveling at 22 knots, and therefore consumes a total of 800 liters per day just to go to swim at Budelli. And there are hundreds of these mega-yachts obligated to travel so many miles every day, when there are a group of islands (Mortorio-Soffi-Nibani-Bisce) there in front at just 3 miles distance.

All tourist operators in the area are rightly concerned that these prohibitions have a negative influence on the local economy, risking to send this rich nautical tourism to other shores in other countries. The larger yachts have no difficulty in traveling the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, where they can find other situations just as attractive, where they can holiday, where the anchoring constraints are much more reasonable.

Well aware of the importance of preserving the environment, of which we of APICS are all convinced, which is why we have chosen the Costa Smeralda for the purchase of our homes where the environment is well protected, we believe that we should be allowed to enjoy  “our” islands, nevertheless with all the necessary protective environment regulations, the observance of which we want to be rigidly and strictly controlled.


                                             The outer area originally banned, now extended to the whole island

Regarding the island of Mortorio, the original rules allowed it to be approached and forbade anchoring only in the outer part, as seen from the following photo, but now it is totally forbidden, all the way round, 360 °. At least the inner part should be returned to the enjoyment of the general community.

Li Nibani

One boat at anchor, with the complex waves causing swell

As for Li Nibani which needs to be kept intact for the restocking of game; however we note that these islets are constantly subject to waves created by the frequent passage of motorboats, and so are very uncomfortable for those who remain at anchor and are thus generally avoided. Permitting the anchorage or rather, the mooring at buoy for a few boats, would not cause any damage to the wildlife for the very small influx of boats that would occasionally stop here. See the Google satellite photo of August 4, 2010, where you can see the complex intersection of waves around the islands and only one sailboat at anchor. In order to relieve the pressure of boats elsewhere, we suggest that also these islets be equipped with some mooring buoys.


Measures taken to protect beaches in Turkey

We wish to mention the techniques developed by the Turkish authorities, who can teach us how the public can actually make use of special natural reserves, without causing any environmental damage, according to proven practices  (see Annex B). Their particularly sensitive beaches are fenced off and the public is allowed access, subject to strict rules for entering and exiting from the water, with obligatory showers etc, careful not to take away even a single grain of sand.

                          Cleopatra beach in Turkey manned by guards with mandatory shower for the public access

We could adopt these precautions for example at the Spiaggia Rosa of Budelli and allow public access, rather than depriving the community of an invaluable asset, a tourist resource and opportunity, in our opinion which is unreasonably wasted.


We hereby ask for your authoritative intervention to bring your managers of the Park to a more reasonable management of our tourism resources, represented by the islands of La Maddalena and in particular those of Arzachena, heritage of the local community and part of its economic nautical and tourist industry.

1 - We recommend to install mooring buoys along the inner shores of the islands of Mortorio, Soffi, le Camere, Bisce, and also Li Nibani and Caprera and permit the mooring of boats, as indeed permitted to the islands around the town of La Maddalena.

2 - We recommend the imposition of speed limits between inshore islands, particularly aimed at the large motor yachts, in order to limit pollution and the sea, air and noise pollution, and also to ensure a greater safety at sea.

3 - We suggest to open public access to the Spiaggia Rosa beach at Budelli, adopting those measures mentioned above, that ensure a total environmental protection.

L. Camillo

April 2012                   

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    Copyright L. Camillo 2012